June 04, 2012 Kerala Taylor

What if more playgrounds simulated video games?

Salt Lake County’s Evergreen Park is building an electronic playground set that includes blinking lights and an LED controller.

By simulating the video game experience on the playground, Danish playground equipment manufacturer Kompan is hoping to lure kids outdoors who would otherwise be hooked into game systems on the couch.

Bob Ross, president of Salt Lake City-based Play Space Designs, told the Salt Lake City Tribune, "These are physically challenging games, and that’s what appeals to the older kids. And that’s the challenge — to get older kids back to the playgrounds."

We agree that something needs to be done to get older kids to playgrounds, particularly in a day and age when playground equipment is so "safe" (read: boring) that it holds little appeal for children older than seven. But are "video-game-like" playgrounds the way to go?

We're not so sure. While outdoor physical activity for children is necessary and good, it's even better when accompanied by a healthy dose of imagination. Beloved playground structures like slides, monkey bars, and swings invite children to make up their own games as they scamper, run, and climb. An electronic game, on the other hand, encourages a prescribed set of motions toward a prescribed set of goals.

Kids play enough video games at home. Instead of simulating the experience on the playground, can we find more imaginative ways to engage them by re-introducing elements of risk and whimsy on the playground?

Yay or nay? What do you think about electronic playground equipment?


the buzz in play, video game, risk, challenge, play outdoors, physical activity